Ford’s Active Parking Assist: Why Bother?

ford

I don’t get it.

Why in the world would a car company invest in developing a vehicle that parallel parks itself? I might be able to understand if the car was able to quickly and efficiently maneuver into an open space without any risk of hitting another car or the curb.

But check out this image provided by Ford, touting their new Active Parking Assist technology:

 

Okay, first of all, why do we need a computer to tell us that parking in the miniscule space between two already parked cars is not possible?

Their second point says, “The driver still shifts the transmission and operates the gas and brake pedals with clear prompts from the Active Park Assist system.”

Awesome. Now even our car’s computer can nag us about the way we park.

If you’re developing a self-parking system, wouldn’t it make sense to develop one that actually… oh, I don’t know… parks the car? If I want instructions on HOW to park, I’ll pay to install a drivers’ ed instructor and permanently adhere him to the passenger seat (which I’ll bet is still cheaper and significantly less annoying than adding Park Assist as an option).

Then there’s this little gem: “While the steering is done automatically, the driver remains responsible for safe parking.”

Right.

So this system doesn’t operate the transmission, the gas, or the brake, or guarantee safe parking.

But hey, it will tell you that your car won’t fit between two already parked cars. Nice engineering, Ford! 

Do you think there’s any use for a program like Ford’s Active Parking Assist? Would you add it as an option to your next new car?

 -tgriffith

7 Comments

  1. Comments like “If you can’t parrallel [sic] park a car then you should not have a drivers license” are similar to dismissing stability systems because drivers without advanced vehicle handling skills shouldn’t be driving. The fact of the matter is that parallel parking can be a challenge for any driver simply because of the large number of variables involving the size of the space, flanking vehicles and characteristics of the vehicle being parked. I’ve tested the Lexus system, which is so poorly executed that it can’t successfully park more often than not, but I’ve also tested the equipment that Ford’s system is based on and it really works well– I could part a car in a space only about a foot longer than the vehicle, although spaces that small require rocking back and forth sever times. Griffith doesn’t seem to understand that automated control of transmission, gas, brake and steering constitutes a drive by wire system and is several orders of magnitude beyond steering-only control for cost, programming, and liability. Ford’s system steers via commands to the electric power steering system, which most or all vehicles will have in a few years anyway. The only extra cost is the ultrasonic sensors in the bumpers, which are not high cost items. As I mentioned, I’ve used this system and it really takes the worry (about chunking your 20″ wheels or scratching your paint) out of parking. Even though I’m very good at parallel parking, I enjoyed using it and found it very helpful when spaces were somewhat tight. Also, as I’m getting older now, being able to parallel park quickly and accurately without having to do bodily contortions is nice too. My wife loved it too. (She will park two blocks away to get a double spot that she can pull forward into.) Here’s one area where Toyota did not get the big advantage by early adopting. Ford picked the right suppliers for their EPS and parking assist systems and have one that really works well. Good job Ford!!

  2. @Colin

    yeah… and we know there are hardly any ‘city folk’ anymore. it’s not like the population is growing or anything. or that cities have been getting larger and larger.

  3. @Edward
    Edward: Haven’t you waited while a “licensed driver” tried three times to parallel park? If we eliminated licenses for all these people, most of the elderly and new young drivers would be walking (maybe a good idea?). Come on, man, you know that Ford had studied this problem extensively before investing in all that dumb technology to attract these marginal drivers and keep them on the road, raising insurance rates for the rest of us.

  4. this is silly. If you can’t parrallel park a car then you should not have a drivers license. There are basic functions that just have to be able to do. Its not that hard….

  5. It would seem if they could develop a car that could tell you how to drive, they would just invent the car that could do it themselves. There is nothing worse than having someone tell you how to drive! Great article.

  6. And those that parallel park on a regular basis pretty much know how to do it already.

  7. I completely agree, seems like a waste of r&d funds. How many people would actually use this? I’m willing to bet that a very small percentage of drivers parallel park on a regular basis (basically only city folk).

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